Tangible Sustainability Goals Drive Performance Improvement

Why sustainability should be your CFO's top priority
October 14, 2013

According to a recent study, companies with tangible sustainability goals are four to five times more likely to improve their performance than compared with firms that don’t set goals. When companies publicly disclose these goals, they are more likely to increase social, environmental, and financial performance.

Not only are sustainability goals a strong indicator of future performance, but they also help to improve financial performance by reducing energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, and waste. According to the research, 39 percent of companies surveyed received environmental and corporate responsibility awards. Of these companies, 83 percent set sustainability goals.

Sustainability goals should be business-focused, monitored, and tracked. Tracking of goals is essential in order to set realistic objectives. The study recommends that firms set multiyear goals to measure long-term sustainability. Lastly, firms should invite stakeholders to partake in the goal-setting process to help identify new trends and improve corporate reputation.

In a market where stakeholders are increasingly interested in environmental and social performance, setting public goals provides a competitive advantage by creating a positive, productive, and transparent relationship with stakeholders. Creating goals that are focused on long-term sustainability also grows the customer base and allows for easier entry into new markets and geographic areas.

An increasingly popular goal-setting trend is linking the management bonuses to the achievement of goals. A recent poll revealed that 42 percent of companies interviewed linked compensation with sustainability. This trend is growing because it not only improves a firm’s financial performance, but it shows accountability by management while earning public recognition.

Yet, despite all of the benefits, establishing a set of sustainability goals is not easy. The key challenges to this process include the amount of time and resources available. Collecting useful and meaningful data to set goals can be very time consuming. It also takes a significant amount of organizational effort to follow environmental and social trends and then incorporate these trends into sustainability goals.

The Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Reporting Solution powered by Wdesk significantly reduces the time it takes to collect data, draft, review, and publish CSR reports. With Wdesk, CSR reports are no longer held up by manual updating and last-minute fixes. The cloud-based Wdesk platform allows multiple data providers, content providers, and reviewers to collaborate on the same document in real time. The CSR Reporting Solution gives your company more time to set and evaluate sustainability goals, which can ultimately increase financial performance.

To learn more about how Wdesk can help you streamline your CSR reporting process, visit the CSR Reporting Solution page, or schedule a demo to see it in action.


References: “Greening the Green 2012.” (2012). Glass Lewis & Co. Retrieved from http://www.glasslewis.com/blog/glass-lewis-publishes-greening-the-green-2012-linking-executive-compensation-to-sustainability/ “Sustainability Goals that Make an Impact.” (2013). CH2M Hill. Retrieved from http://sccr.ch2m.com/reports/CH2M-HILL-Sustainability-Report-2013.pdf

Francis Quinn

About the author

Francis Quinn is the Director of Corporate Sustainability Technologies for Workiva. Before joining Workiva, he directed sustainable development for L’Oréal in Paris.